"Innovative Midgets" by Sha Ka Zu Lu Warrior, October 2012

Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.

AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.

AN2: None.

Summary: Malaria kills over a million Africans every year, most of these are children under the age of five. Within the civilian medical community, faith in the drug is mixed among doctors who specialize in tropical diseases …

Innovative Midgets

While they were walking upright in their leather boots, smoking Cuban cigars and admiring the turbines below, "mistah" Paul Jeffries, industrialist, and "mistah" Gordon L. Sorchuk, engineer, conversed about various matters.

"Internationally …", Paul puffed a smoke, placing thumb into his little pocket, "… coal is currently the most widely used primary fuel, accounting for approximately 36% of the world's electricity production. This situation is likely to remain until at least 2020." He eyed Gordon like a weasel, grinning gleefully.

"Coal has traditionally dominated the energy supply sector in South Africa, from as early as 1880 when coal from the Verooning area around us …", Paul exhaled in some sad way, "… was supplied to the Kimberly diamond fields. Presently …", he waved to some managers below, "… about 77% of our country's primary energy needs are provided by coal. This is unlikely to change significantly in the next decade, due to the relative lack of suitable alternatives to coal as an energy source."

Some migrating birds flew over them.

"What about the coal on Kosovo, Europe?" Gordon smoked his cigar, noticing some European crew below.

"South Africa's coal reserves are estimated at fifty-three billion tons, and with our present production rate …", Paul tilted himself on his heels, "… there should be almost two hundred years of coal supply left. So …", he guffawed in some polite manner, "I don't think anyone is such an urgent need of any Kosovo products …"

They walked in silence for a while, sound of engines and tractors below adding to the common industrial noise. White smoke was emanating from wide chimneys.

"Producing electricity from coal starts when the coal is pulverized in huge mills into a fine powder before it is blown into huge kettles, called boilers." Paul pointed with his thick fingers, Gordon noticing his ruby golden ring and a half-smoked cigar. "Due to the heat in the boiler …", there was some quarrelling among the apes below and Paul watched as gorilla managers used their whips effectively, "… the coal particles combust and burn to generate heat to turn water into steam." He gesticulated with both hands like some wizard. Gordon shook his head, wondering if the hallucinations were from that morning's coffee that the elf woman served.

"The steam from the boilers is used to turn the blades of a giant fan or propeller, called a turbine." Paul nodded towards a large, colorful fan. His ears were now spiky but Gordon had to maintain his professional posture at all times. "The turbine turns a coil made of copper wire … the rotor …", Gordon lifted his head up and noticed pterodactyls flying in flocks, "… inside a magnet … the stator." Paul grinned and then paused. "Is there something wrong perhaps? You are sweating my dear man?" Gordon smiled feebly, wiping pink sweat from his yellow forehead."

"Together they make up the generator." Gordon could now see Paul's tail and little horns as well. His feet were now red hoofs, protruding from his pants. Gordon widened his eyes in disbelief, feeling dizzy. "The generator produces an electric current …", Paul noticed that Gordon was staring in frenzy at his fangs and then grinned, "… which is sent to the homes and factories of consumers via power lines." He closed in. "Are you sure you don't need any medical assistance? Your pupils are dilated?"

As they were descending over some ashen road, Gordon watched in horror as one of the workers who did not clean his boots properly had to fight with a man-eating lion in a cage. Others were simply placing bets while trolls monitored them. Gordon almost plastered himself to Paul, not knowing where to turn to for some comfort and help. Paul grinned, dropping some ash from his cigar.

"There is a growing trend in the utility industry to convert existing coal-fired power plants to burn what are …", Paul paused, letting trucks with captured natives roll by towards the mines, "… by some …", another one followed and he pulled Gordon back, "… considered to be more environmentally-friendly fuel types, such as biomass and natural gas …", Paul farted and his green eyes became yellow, "… though whether such conversions are environmentally beneficial remains controversial." Gordon was shivering now, looking sullen and pale. "This trend is driven by a number of factors, including state-level renewable portfolio standards …" Paul patted Gordon on his back. "Don't worry. Locals must have put some of those 'weeds' into your morning tea, causing hallucinations …" Gordon was immediately relieved, his brain still not accepting what his senses received. "Federal incentives and looming environmental regulations …", Paul rocked himself on heels again, feeling proud, "... consumer demand and environmental awareness … and …", he turned his red eyes towards frightened Gordon, "… an economic climate that is making coal less attractive of course …" An ominous laughter followed that echoed around, making Gordon feel unstable.

After they sat down in the local canteen, other slaves murmuring as trolls were checking their chains, Paul continued.

"Dwarves are capable of being noble, and they do have lives beyond the battlefields, you know."

"Dwarves?" Gordon dared, feeling hot.

"Yes. Dwarves have food, games, and crafting skills that are unique to their largely subterranean life style." He winked and Gordon noticed that his horns have diminished. Without further waiting he looked down under the table and noticed that the hoofs were replaced now with some enlarged, hairy legs. Gordon giggled.

"Ha! There you go! That's the way to accept it!"

Gordon felt much better, becoming heedless of his surrounding, trying to accept new reality as it was.

"The average dwarf is roughly four feet tall and 130-180 pounds as adults." Some goblins with slimy skin brought sandwiches and coffee. Gordon smelled it, staring at Paul. He knew that another dose would probably give him wings or something similar. Paul snickered openly, thanking goblins whose dripping slime made Gordon nauseated.

"The most elderly dwarves can reach up to 450 years of age but living past 350 is incredibly rare." Paul bit into his sandwich. At some moments Gordon could see that Paul had green, hairy face. Some of the slaves had red necks and small protrusions at the shoulder level. "They can see in the dark …", Paul continued to munch on, watching some large rats attack the cook, "… and usually don't light a tunnel or city section unless it is meant for 'outsiders' or tourists."

"Which is me currently …" Gordon concluded and Paul pointed a finger at him, smiling broadly.

"Well … yes." Paul tried his murky coffee from which some tiny toads emerged once in a while. Taking a closer look, Gordon could see mosquito families resting in some recliner chairs at the rim of his cup! His gaping face did not stir Paul whose skin was now leathered in some crocodile-style, small bulges and bumps spread unevenly around.

"Records of dwarven childhood stages and care are jealously guarded and the children are purposely hidden away until nearly full grown adults at the age of 40."

Gordon almost jumped from his seat when a cave troll of some seven feet landed noisily at the table nearby, crushing the skull of one goblin, others immediately pulling the casualty away, staring fretfully at Paul.

"Dwarves …", Paul finished his sandwich, maggots and other flying creatures of various size escaping from his mouth, "… when not working …", he burped and an ammonia-like stench almost knocked Gordon down, but he recollected himself soon, sipping that pond-like coffee without thinking, "… enjoy various past times." His throat burnt but he felt much better, flickers of true reality coming back to him. "Darts, jokes, songs, dancing, loud parties …", Paul leaned back, sipping that murky substance, some tiny lizards escaping over the rim, "... citing victories of the past, and competitive tunnel based sports …", he sipped it and a shriek of tiny voices echoed towards Gordon's suddenly over-sensitive ears, "… fill their free hours, you know …"

As he made himself drink more of the dull drab, glimpses of his "true reality" were coming back. Workers with happy faces sitting and enjoying themselves while eating some "true" food.

"Despite their tough and gritty beginnings …", even the cave troll was nothing more that a large back African human, "… not all dwarves are dour or aloof creatures that are only satisfied with work." Gordon realized that Paul's face was now waxen yellow, his skin oily and slippery. His snake-like tongue tested the air once in a while. "A dwarven personality is more predictable than a human one, but …", Gordon watched as some goblins beat up a troll that did not use the proper salute while entering the canteen, "… still variable." Paul finished his coffee, some grime still sliding slowly from the corners of his lips. "A dwarf can be a trickster or perky or even playful." Paul laughed, showing a set of needle-sharp protrusions that resembled teeth in some way. He immediately forced himself to drink more of the now crimson coffee. "But beneath these lighter traits …", Paul farted again, green smoke evaporating behind his scaly back, "… is a stone resolution to see things through."

Gordon made himself drink the whole coffee and the reality seemed to be seeping back in slowly.

After they made and exit of what looked like a cave with some overgrowth and greenery on it, Gordon noticed some large, antelope-like animal being stranded by six strong men who tightened ropes around its horns, each pulling on his side.

Large man with a rough and slightly bent back approached it with large two-bladed axe.

"The ritual slaughter of animals is included in the Constitution under 'freedom of religion'." One smooth swift cut the head of the unknown animal, blood spurting all around. Men that used to hold the animal did not withdraw. To Gordon's further amazement, they closed in, letting spurting blood stain their faces, arms and legs, massaging thick liquid all over their bodies. Big butcher grinned to Paul, his large, uneven teeth scaring Gordon. Paul sniggered. "Ritual slaughter is also a fundamental part of the culture of some groups in South Africa and essential to their identity."

Paul stood for some time more, checking out the environment. To his relief, things were coming back to "normality".

"I think I'll see the doctor now …"

"All right then …" Paul showed with his hand towards the jeep. Driver saluted and opened the door, letting them in.

As they drove off, Gordon turned once more towards the canteen and noticed that it was a square building with some flooding lights above. Nothing "out of the ordinary" … He sighed and then tried to enjoy the ride.